St Mary Magdalene church, Thornford - outside


St Mary Magdalene church, Thornford - inside

The pretty church of St Mary Magdalene stands in its wooded churchyard on the northern side of the village, with fine views to the north and west. The tower and chancel are of the fifteenth century with some earlier features while the nave and north aisle were completely rebuilt in matching style by the illustrious firm of Slater and Carpenter in 1860 (Carpenter's father had started the immensely distinguished restoration of Sherborne Abbey a few years before and the firm were to be involved with Sherborne for many years to come at the behest of the Digby family of Sherborne Castle, who owned much property in and around Thornford).

The stone screen, of which there is a handful in the area, is unusual and attractive, the font is of the 15th Century and the high-Victorian pulpit is from the general restoration and rebuilding. A considerable treasure is the chamber organ in the north aisle, built by Benjamin Flight the Younger (1767 - 1846), installed in December 2012. It has a fine gothic-style mahogany case with beautifully gilded pipes.

In the churchyard, one particularly interesting feature is the “Tithe Tomb”, with a hollow like a small basin in the top in which tenants placed five shillings to prevent the Lord of the Manor taking tithes of hay during the year. Payment had to be made before 12 noon on St Thomas’s day, and the tenant of Manor Farm took the money. It is recorded that the squire and the rector once went to law over the issue, and the rector lost . There was no peace in the grave in those days!